Wednesday, April 30, 2008
A couple months ago I finally purchased greenie-bulbs, to slowly replace the regular ones.
I've got my kitchen organized so I can wash and clean jars and containers, and then I hope to buy more stuff from the bulk store. It's not necessarily cheaper, but less packaging.
I'm going to post a "no flyers" notice on my mailbox (after I get a translation into French from the step-mommyness.)
At the grocery store I avoid the little veggie baggies if I can, but for some things they're still convenient. I think the little dryer baggies from the dollar store (meant for drying delicates in your dryer) may work well--in terms of not adding too much weight.
The long-term problem that's bothering me is composting. You can get indoor composting units, but where would I put the dirt? Maybe I could go out in the middle of the night and spread it on people's lawns.
Hey! I never did finish my 100 Goals List. I have failed. But look, I can put all these green goals on it, to plump it up! Woo!
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
This is pretty funny. It's the most high-tech self-cleaning cat box I've ever seen. It's actually ecologically better than cat litter, since it has rewashable granules (that the machine washes), but I won't buy something like this til they've been on the market longer. One glance at the reviews on amazon shows how often this breaks down, which is not a surprise considering how complex it is.
I also didn't see whether it plugs in, or runs on batteries. I didn't think through my last Robot Purchase, which was the shower cleaner--because it took up so many batteries! I was clearly in a Delusional and Desperate School Phase when I bought that thing!
Right now I'm using a spray bottle of shower cleaner, but when it runs out I'm going to come up with a homemade cleaning solution for the shower (vinegar or whatever--I'll just do a little googling. At worst, I can use Hertel.) I'm about to run out of my eco all-purpose cleaner too, and though it's from a company I approve of, I may also replace that with homemade cleaner.
My real challenge, though, is to figure out how to make my own Lysol wipes. I can get eco-animal friendly ones from Method, but again, the expense. I've kept my empty bottle for experimenting. I need to find some sort of cheap, thin cleaning cloth... I wonder if cheese cloth would work. But can I get them rolled up in such a way that they'll pull out of the bottle like the disposable wipes do? That would be cool.
My best eco invention has been my face cleaning cloths. I took new soft dusting cloths and cut them into squares, and put them in a jar. I use them in the place of cotton balls or cleaning pads. I leave a small mesh laundry bag next to the jar for the dirty ones, and toss it in the washing machine.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
I'm reading Michael Pollan's previous book, The Omnivore's Dilemma. I borrowed it from work, but I'm going to have to buy it because it is blowing my little pea sized brain.
I have so many thoughts about this... I don't know where to start. Aiiiieeee. I'll try to post short thought-updates on my Practically Moral page, where I like to blab about politics and food. If you don't read them... well... you'll just have to suffer through me speechifying you every time we meet. ...I'll have to carry a script around with me, so I don't forget all my speechify points.
But here's one.
1. The US government (under the influence of food production industries) encourages farmers to grow as MUCH corn as physically possible.
2. Farmers grow corn like mozefozes.
3. There is so much corn on the market, that its value is low.
4. It costs farmers more to produce corn than the price it sells at, which is why the government has to subsidize them; this is also why farmers need to produce tons and tons of corn, to make back enough money to stay afloat.
5. The beneficiaries of cheap corn are the food producers--those who take corn and turn it into corny weirdo products; and then those food companies that buy the corny weirdo products to make new breakfast cereals.
7. SO: If you're an American, your taxes (about a quarter, I think he said) to subsidize farmers aren't really subsidizing farmers (at least re. corn and soy beans, the biggest sector of the industry) -- you are really subsidizing corporations.
8: And added to this, the glut of cheap corn means that every industry possible tries to use corn every which way they can, which is why beef cows are fed corn even though it makes them so sick, they also have to be fed antibiotics with their feed.
And presumably this is the same in Canada. And this type of economy is affecting the countries the US sells corny weirdo products to. They sell corn to MEXICO for God's sake, the home of corn! Because no small farmer can compete with this, growing corn the old way, or the old old way. (Old way=growing less corn, using chemical fertilizer. Old old way=using farm animals and bean crops to enrich the soil, on self-sufficient farms with multiple animals and crops.)
Dr Oz has been on Oprah a lot in the past couple years denouncing high fructose corn syrup, which is found in almost every processed food. I wasn't too freaked out because when you eat vegan you naturally gravitate away from processed food, so what little I consume probably isn't that bad for my health. The only change I made was to increase the amount of food I cook at home.
But now I see high fructose corn syrup as demon spawn! I'm not anti-corporation by default, but what the industrialization of food has done to animals, peoples, economies, and the environment is just immoral. I'm sure there are many, many lovely people who work in the food industry... but ah! ah! ah! Ahhhh!
On the Not So Nice end of things, McGill fired any of the exam invigilators who are also TAs. The latest word is that they've threatened "striking employees with more layoffs, this time for TAs who hold summer sessional instructor jobs and research assistantships." That came from a union email, I don't know more than that.
A student in our dept proposed a meeting with faculty, to keep up good relations. I doubted the Chair would agree since there's no way he'd be allowed to talk about these issues. Sure enough he was reluctant at first, but has now set a meeting for next Monday. As Star Wars would say, I have a bad feeling about this.
From Admin (April 24): "On Wednesday, April 23, the Commission des Relations du Travail du Québec
issued an order that supports McGill’s interpretation of Quebec labour law as
it applies to professors marking papers and exams, submitting grades and
teaching summer courses.
As you may know, AGSEM, the Union representing the teaching assistants,
had argued that the University did not have the right to assign this work to
professors. At a Commission hearing April 18 to deal with a Union complaint,
AGSEM agreed during a mediation session to the terms of an agreement that
formed the basis of the April 23 order. The Union’s subsequent attempt, on
Monday, April 21, to pull back from that agreement was dismissed on April
From FNEEQ site (April 17): "Cette semaine, un enquêteur du ministère du Travail a conclu dans son rapport que McGill se sert de scabs pour effectuer le travail des grévistes. Lors d’une visite à un laboratoire de chimie de l’université, le 11 avril, l’enquêteur, Thomas Hayden, a constaté que les professeurs de McGill remplaçaient les auxiliaires dans leurs taches normales, ce qui contrevient l’article 109.1"
The other day I went out with Friend Gilby. One of the reasons Gilby and I are such good friends is that our brains work very similarly. The result is that he's probably the person I feel the most relaxed around. I don't know if relaxed is the right word. But it's like I've got this hyper child in my brain, and when I'm with Gilby I can open the room and let it tear around the house. (Or a caged tiger, if you prefer. Depends whether you see my Unleashed Mind as annoying or dangerous. I think Fernando sees it as both.)
I don't mean that I'm super intelligent. I just mean that I have this constantly analyzing brain... it's always on go go go go go go mode. Friend Maggie once said to me: Don't you love to just get out in the evening and take a long walk?
Nooooooo! That's like torture! Must...have...ipod. My brain is already on go go go mode when I'm busy doing a hundred other things--don't let it run around with no direction! (Friend Maggie's brain is very similar to mine, but clearly there is some key difference if she finds long walks relaxing. She's got some sort of brain brake.)
This is why I have a million blogs. Writing gives my brain direction. I have to organize my thoughts when I put them to *paper.* Otherwise my brain is exactly like the muppet in this video. All the time. It's also why I talk incessantly. The hyper toddler is trying to escape at every moment! It's also why I argue and debate with people over the littlest things--I'm trying to figure out what my opinion is on the subject, and my brain will NOT stop until I do. If you've ever seen me obsess about a topic, you don't know the half... if I've obsessed about something verbally, it means I've obsessed about it in my mind for 10 X that amount of time. And I will continue to obsess, for years even, until I'm satisfied with the answer.
Anyway. If you want to know the Secrets Inside My Brain, just watch this video. ;-)
Monday, April 21, 2008
It's probably been... about 8 years since I've been scheduled on the floor? The staff are weirded out. They're looking out for me though. "How's the shelving?" "You're doing well with that cart!" Awww. So nice.
I have the feet of an aristocrat, though. Can't take this standing/walking for hours. You don't know how many calories you burn having a 5-day/week retail job until you switch to doing desk work.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
I believe that when you goal set you have to divide things into short, medium and long term because the long-term ones require a bunch of short and medium ones. So I've so far divided my list into themes, so I can group the related ones together. So far I have writing, teaching, money, health, fun, home, social, marriage and self-improvement.
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle
that goes on inside people.
He said 'my son,the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all
One is Evil. It is, anger,envy,jealousy,sorrow,regret,greed,
superiority and ego.
The other is Good. It is, joy,peace,love,hope,serenity,humility,
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
which wolf wins?'
The old Cherokee simply replied
'The one you feed.'
Friday, April 18, 2008
So... could you write a list of 100 goals in one night? I'll update you tomorrow and we'll see if I manage it.
Okay I'm back. I'm up to 47. One of the goals I accomplished right after listing it, but I'm leaving it on. Since putting it on the list made me remember to do it, I figure that counts.
This is hard. In part because I don't want this to become a List of Becoming a Perfect Human Being. You know... like a list of New Years resolutions that you later feel bad about because you just aren't living this perfect life you unrealistically outlined for yourself. I'm all for making specific goals with timelines, but you have to limit yourself to a certain number at a time--prioritize. Saving money for a new couch and retirement is more important right now than saving money for a second trip to London. I mean, I might go back to London in, like, 10-20 years. I'm not going to put a money goal on it right now! Ease.
Also... making this list is preventing me from working on Goal #5 - finish plotting my next novel. I should have done this while I was in school and desperate to procrastinate.
Gasp! I just realized I can't even fill up a couple spots with "finish MA paper" and "get degree." Man! Reaching goals sucks... you always have to find new ones to put on! I this week I reached two other goals, to make homemade stock for the first time, and homemade seitan. This isn't fair...
I don't think this should be a perpetual 100 Goals list. It ought to get shorter as I achieve them. Otherwise I'll be 80 years old and writing "Make supper tonight. Make breakfast tomorrow. Make lunch tomorrow..."
You know you're too busy when you even stop reading Overheard at McGill! Time to catch up...
Girl: Stop calling women objects or tools! Women are NOT tools!
Guy: Of course they aren’t tools. Tools are useful.
- McGill Arena
International student: I got in a car accident on my way to the airport.
Oblivious science student: OMG that’s crazy, I just don’t know how anyone manages to drive in Africa with no roads.
- Burnside Basement
Student: Mcgill is the pimp, and we’re its overworked hoes.
(Editor’s Note: This is untrue. Due to recent events, we now understand that the T.A.s are, in fact, the overworked hoes.)
Student: There are two things I hate this much: One is this program… The other is your mom.
Student on cell phone: Hey, do you want to come see a play with me tonight? Ya? It’s the “Taming of the Shrew,” it’s based on that movie: “Ten Things I Hate About You!”
- Arts Building West Wing
Engineer 1:Valentines is coming up. What should i get my girlfriend?
Engineer 2: Does she like Star Wars?
- engineering common room
AND MY FAVOURITE...
Girl: Would you have sex with your mom for a million dollars?
Boy: I’d have sex with my mom just to get laid.
- New Rez Cafe
Thursday, April 17, 2008
* swinging bench
* kleenex box (yes still just a tiny bit sick)
* Oprah magazine
* notebook of story ideas & inky pen
* homemade sunshade for said laptop
* Tegan and Sarah under the earphones (in case neighbours not fans of Tegan and Sarah)
* pashmina in case I get chilly in my tank top and shorts
* log footstool
* root beer
* kitty buddies
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
The "moods" application on facebook is one of my favourites, because it gives you a snapshot diary of your life! Here's my school year in a nutshell (courtesy of screen shots.) You have to start at the bottom and work your way up. (If too small, you should be able to click on each photo to enlarge it.)
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I've been working about 12 hours/day for the last few days. They didn't feel like long days. I wasn't stressed or anything--just focused. Looks like I got enough work done throughout the semester to allow me to be quite, quite pleased with the final draft. Thanks to The God who lent me his PC I've been able to run any new stat idea that came to mind. Lending me this computer wasn't just a life saver, it probably made a difference to my final grade! (The paper is graded by 2 profs and they take the average.)
So now I'm sticking in graphs and fiddling with headers and such. There'll be no overnighter, no last minute work in the morning. I'll get downtown early enough to print (and make allowance for printing emergencies), and if I get there early enough I can spend a little time on the picket lines before I leave.
Listening to Kate Bush--I felt she should be with me in these last moments. All three kittenatudes are in the room, in napping solidarity. Fernando's studying Warcraft books in the next room.
Alright... off to finish the last bits. Tootaloo!
Blehhhh I hate this part. I've read the whole paper once, to edit it. But now I have to give it another read. Wether it's fiction or school, I hate rereading my writing for the millionth time. Where's the suspense? Where are the red herrings? The shattering reveal at the end when the detective has all the suspects in a room?? It's so boring. And you can't speed read either... I mean, the point is you have to read carefully. Sucks sucks sucks.
Once this is done I have to transpose this from my working program to word, and get started on the footnotes. Then add in the graphs and tables, which will result in many computer related headaches and disasters, not to mention Word shutting down all the time. As a Romantic poet once said: Happy am I. Joy is my name.
Ap 14 11:57 PM
God bless EndNote.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Every once in awhile, like when I finish a section of my paper, I allow myself a second of "I've almost graduated!" excitement.
Then the horror of "Now I have to get in front of a class and teach!" hits me. I have no fear of getting in front of a group and starting a discussion... that's what I specialize in. But to write and deliver my own material?
I've written up four syllabi now (3 to apply to Dawson, and the 4th was a requirement for my degree) and they're long and complex. You have to think of the most logical way to present the information--much like writing a paper. You have to figure out what to include or drop. You have to gage the reading level of your audience, and you're wading through all this research trying to find the best article to express a certain idea.
But that's just putting together the readings! I've never taken this material and written out lectures. Eep! Obviously that's what I should do next. Obviously once school is done it's the last thing I'm gonna wanna do.
Oh well. One step at a time, that's the only way to accomplish your goals. I learned longo time-o ago to not get overwhelmed by the thing that's a few steps ahead; you have to take the goals, break them down into short steps, and hack away at each one.
Which is to say... back to my friggin research paper.
Ap 13 7 PM
Man am I ever tired of nose blowing. I've been sick for over a week now--this is more than the average head cold, which usually lasts a few days for me. This is some nasty bug that wants to graduate with me so it can be called Master Buggy.
I'm editing today, and it's slow going. I tend to want my writing to sound like the fairies came out of the woods at night with magic typewriters. I like to produce good prose. It's harder when I get to describing my stats results--I'm less adept at that type of writing. Back I go...
The editing is done, conclusion written. Rice Krispie treats are in the freezer cooling, and it's time to do graphs and tables. If I can get these done tonight, then tomorrow I just have to do footnotes (which are about half done) and look up a few odds and sods. Where is my beer chugging team when I need them? Go! Go! Go!
2 Am Ap 14
Change of venue: Sitting in bed. I found an error in my paper which required correcting and a lot of RK squares. Then I ran through all my CLARIFY simulations, which is a software you can use in conjunction with Stata to describe your results in a clearer manner. It's taken me awhile to get the hang of it, but I'm pretty happy with my results.
Now I have to decide what tables and graphs I need, and build them. If you build it... the grades will come.
Alright... no time for graphs tonight. Tables are soooo fiddly. It took me about 2 hours to make the main one. The Clarify one should hopefully be quicker. Eep! Eep! Then I'll abed. The graphs are done, at least, they too just need fiddling. Man... in some ways things must have been easier in The Olden Days when you did this crap by hand!
5:09 Off to bed we go.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
[Oh - and I was at the protest just long enough to hear one round of so-so-so-solidarité! Woo!]
Then I did some paper work at school. Then went to Dawson to apply for work. Then went to bookstore to work. Off to bed early. Woke up--worked on paper--couple more hours at bookstore--home--pancakes--checking email and fixing something wrong on the computer. Sigh.
Computer fixed. Emails checked. And now... time to get back to the papier. Only three working days left, and then it's Too Late Suckah.
I may do some picketing next week when my work is done. The Poli Sciers all joined the same team, and most importantly, their shifts are in the afternoon (just 2 days.)
I'm not signing up for strike pay because I don't want to be obliged to go all the way downtown for Gen Assemblies etc. But I still want to help out, I think it's the responsible thing to do, having voted yes. Plus... like I said... chance to gossip and see my friends.
The Univ Admin definitely has a different take on whether profs are allowed to do the grading. I can only guess that their interpretation of the law is that grading is part of a prof's description of work, and therefore they can do all of it? While the union is arguing that any hours that were specifically meant for a TA to grade, can't be graded by anyone else.
Ah yes, here's the Q&A that explains, and that is indeed their reasoning. They're also willing to pay any legal fees incurred, and they'll stop the pay of a prof who doesn't grade. Sounds like they intend to get out all the grades without the TAs, so I don't think this strike is going to end anytime soon. Oh la. Can't we all just Get Along?
Oh, also--cute thing. After the Assembly last week one of my school friends from Turkey, and another from China, were both quite excited about the meeting--because you wouldn't have seen anything like it in their home countries. So... something to add to my list of Odd Things I'm Appreciative For. Paying taxes, and dealing with union-ahj.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Well I totally have a cold. Good thing we still have tissue stocks that I bought for the infection round. Here's my new line: My nose is runnin' like the law is after it. Heh heh.
Okay, school work now. 12 days left (minus the couple when I work.)
Cold a little better, or maybe just well controlled by the drugs.
I have to go online once or twice a day to check for student emails because they have papers due Monday. But I only go on with the battery (and lots of applications open) to limit the time I spend. I'm back at my desk now. Unconsciously munching on an excellent peanut butter cookie in a Non Paul McKenna Approved Manner.
Blerrrgh. This cold just won't go away--I am personally responsible for keeping the economy going right now, through my kleenex purchases.
I've been working on my 2nd last assignment for a couple days--to create and justify a syllabus for a university course. I was determined to get it done and sent to my prof so I stayed up all last night, and sent it at 9 AM. So of course it's taken until 9 PM this evening to get back on the homework wagon. I feel bloochy.
One week til the deadline. I'll lose tomorrow cause I have to do a bunch of other things, and then I've got to push on straight until Tuesday. Things like footnoting, tables and graphs always take a looong time so I've got to leave a day or two to do them properly (for things to go wrong - for cursing at the computer - for fiddling with margins - for inventing new swear words).
Oh and - Academics should have to state their gender somewhere in the bibliographic info of their papers -- either that or we need to switch to gender neutral language. How do I know if Robin is a woman or man? I believe Ilse is female, but what about Ola? What about Zoran, Ada, Slaven and Zeljka from the paper on Croatia and Bos-Herz? Sounds like male, female, male, female--but I'm just guessing. At least I can refer to them as "they" -- it's the solo authors that bug me. When I get the internet back I'll have to look some of these people up so I can correct my text.
Alright. Back to opinion polls on terrorism. Bleuuuurghee. Yesterday I got Fernando to make apple pudding, so at least there's sugar to keep me going. I polished off the peanut butter cookies yesterday.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
And just when I thought my finances were back on track.
Meow meow meow - meowzidarité! More niblets! More cuddles! More playtime!!
Monday, April 7, 2008
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Anyway, one of her points was that I probably meant "percentage points" rather than "percent" when talking about the difference between various results. I am so much The Fuul that I had to ask Prof Soroka what this meant.
And now I had to relook it up on Wiki to make sure I've grasped it before I write. Sigh. I can learn math, but I need things explained to me several times, and sometimes in different ways, before it sticks. I'm the person asking Dumb Questions a zillion times over. It's not that I didn't get it the first time, but it did NOT stick.
Anyway. This is a good explanation:
"In the case of interest rates, it is a common practice to state the percent change differently. If an interest rate rises from 10% to 15%, for example, it is typical to say, "The interest rate increased by 5%" — rather than by 50%, which would be correct when measured as a percentage of the initial rate (i.e., from 0.10 to 0.15 is an increase of 50%). Such ambiguity can be avoided by using the term "percentage points". In the previous example, the interest rate "increased by 5 percentage points" from 10% to 15%. If the rate then drops by 5 percentage points, it will return to the initial rate of 10%, as expected."
I am definitely going to use "percentage points" because I've always had trouble talking in real percentage, as in the above example. :-) Yikes.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
So I'm working little by little on my paper. While doing the usual procrastinationnes - laundry, dishes, change up my recycling station, sort laundry, and cooked spaghetti sauce, granola, and chocolate rum cake. Sigh. In homework land: Analyzing my stats, figuring out the best graphs to make, researching gender and war in my 6 countries, and now looking up terrorism in them. Sigh.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
At first it was just the classic Hard to Fall Asleep, which in my pre-drug days was normal. I'm a slow faller-asleeper because as soon as Head Hits Pillow my pea-sized brain starts thinking intensely about my day, or issues in my life etc. I have mental tricks to turn my thoughts away from life, and then I fall asleep.
If that's not working (and it's not a too-hot-pajamas thing) then a bowl of cereal and a book in bed, with only the bedside lamp, works. Tonight it was homemade granola and Connie Willis. It seemed to work, I got super tired again, tried to sleep, and this time I wasn't thinking about My Day, but... still no sleeps.
So I've been sitting here about an hour doing internet stuff, even though I feel exhausted. Had some yummy potato and mushroom pie. Drank a mug of hot carob. I'll give it another go... sigh...
Tonight my mind was racing from the TA meeting I went to. It was loads of fun! I never knew strike votes were so entertaining.